Shepperton sets benchmark for NatWest CricketForce success
The step-by-step transformation of Shepperton Cricket Club with the help of NatWest CricketForce 2007 has become a blueprint for other cricket clubs looking to renovate pavilion and performance.
Prior to November 2006, the Surrey club’s story was a familiar one. Historic village club set up in 1883 and enthusiastically supported with three men’s sides, three ladies, five boys and two girl’s teams. They were also hosts to a 20-over league for teams from local pubs.
There was no shortage of enthusiasm in driving the club’s activities forward but the facilities had fallen into disrepair. Plans to do something about the old Army Nissen hut that served as a pavilion and changing rooms had been in place for ten years or so but
the costs of replacing the ramshackle old buildings with a brand new brick Clubhouse were prohibitive and funds elusive.
But in 2006, the ladies and men’s sections, which had previously operated separately, were merged and this development opened up new doors and funding opportunities and a year later, the Club became a key partner in the Chance to Shine Project, with the aim of increasing the number of colt members.
The need to upgrade took on a new urgency. The numbers of disabled members was on the up and the pavilion was not equipped to accommodate wheelchairs and opportunities to attract revenue and members out of season was restricted by a lack of heating which ruled out use of the pavilion in the winter months.
In 2006, the Club was offered the chance to become the launch club for NatWest Cricket Force the following year and immediately set out a list of aims and objectives in order that it could meet the ECB’s criteria.
These included the demolition and rebuilding of the main pavilion and separate changing rooms, fitting out the new buildings, extending the boundary boards around the ground and repairing existing boards, involving all sections of the club and forging new links with the local community.
They formed a small group to drive all these objectives forward and by November 2006, had made significant progress by obtaining both planning permission to go ahead with the project plus an England and Wales Cricket Trust (EWCT) Loan in record time.
To supplement the loan, they also started a fund-raising drive and attracted a range of different donations from members and supporters, including a dinner that raised £9000 (£4800 of which was raised with an auction) which was enough to tear down the old pavilion and changing rooms.
It took just a few hours to flatten. Two weeks later, the foundations were in place for the new wooden structure and over the next few weeks, Shepperton’s new pavilion and changing rooms started to take shape so that by NatWest CricketForce 2007 weekend in March, the fitting out process was well underway.
The club, led by three key people in Richard Barker, Bev Nicholson and Stephanie Williams, galvanised every resource they could find to contribute to the project, securing donations in the form of materials, labour and services from almost 40 different companies and organisations.
In total, the project from start to finish cost £70,000, funded mainly from a £50,000 ECB loan. More than £20000 worth of materials were donated, around £30000 worth of skilled labour. The fund raising dinner raised £9000 and £5500 was secured from cash donations.
The transformation of the Clubhouse was a massive project involving hundreds of people. Over the NatWest CricketForce weekend, over 150 volunteers worked on site. All the local primary schools sent along children to play in the Cricket Roadshows and meet England stars Alastair Cook, Owais Shah, Alec Stewart, Charlotte Edwards and Caroline Atkins (England).
But have all these efforts led to a more vibrant club where more sport is played by more people more often?
In a word, yes, says Shepperton CC chairman Gordon Robinson.
“It has made an enormous difference especially in the way people view the Club. They spend more time down there now and this has given us significant benefits. For example, we used to pay someone to do the teas but because we have such nice kitchens, there are three or four women who are happy to do the teas,which has saved us around £600.
“Our social membership is up and the bar takings too and we are hoping to have some social events there this winter. Surrey County Council is using it for a public meeting and we hope there will be more usage like this.
“In addition, we now have a boy’s football team using the Club for training and for matches and a local boy’s rugby team trains there every week. During the season, we had a kid’s disabled cricket team playing there, which would not have been possible before.
“All in all it has been a huge success and as we go into the winter, we find we are in reasonably healthy financial situation generating sufficient revenue to service our loan. We are now looking to NatWest CricketForce 2008 and aim to repair our driveway which was quite badly damaged by the heavy vehicles coming and going during construction.
“It has been a lot of hard work but well worthwhile. We had no idea who much work was involved when we set out on this project. If we had known, we might never have done it but we are very pleased we did.”